old man

Spiritual Heritage

Let me first state that God doesn’t have any grandkids. Salvation is an individual experience that can only come through a personal encounter with Jesus. With that said, I want to touch on a topic I don’t think I’ve covered in these devotionals. Today I want to speak to you about our Spiritual family. This family may align with your familial heritage, or it may have little or no intersect with your family.

This concept of a Spiritual heritage is firmly grounded in the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Timothy 1:1-2 ESV)

If we look at the life of the Apostle John, we can learn some fascinating “family” history. 

Late in the Apostle John’s life, he trained a man named Polycarp, who became the Bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp carried forward what he learned from John, an eyewitness to the life and miracles of Jesus. 

Polycarp ends up teaching a man named Irenaeus. Irenaeus was a much more prolific writer than Polycarp. So, through Irenaeus, we gain even more knowledge of what Polycarp learned from John and what Irenaeus learned from Polycarp. As you would expect, the teachings of Polycarp and Irenaeus agree with the Inspired writings of the Apostle John. Oh, and Irenaeus became the Bishop of Lyons in Gaul.

Polycarp & Irenaeus

Concerning Polycarp, Irenaeus wrote: 

I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and converse … his general way of life and personal appearance, even the lectures he delivered to the people. I remember how he would speak of his familiar interchange with John and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord. He would call their words to remembrance, anything he had heard from them concerning the Lord, both with regard to his miracles and his teaching. What Polycarp received from the eyewitnesses of the Word of life, he would recount in harmony with the Scriptures. 

It always intrigues me when I read about people that knew the people that knew Jesus. It doesn’t bolster my faith; my faith is in Christ alone. Still, for Christians, we are always one generation away from losing so much that has been gained at such a high a price and conveyed over such a long time. I praise God for our Spiritual heritage.

Photo by Filipe Almeida on Unsplash

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